Rowley champions democracy, bats for Cuba, Venezuela at Summit of the Americas

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Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley addresses the Ninth Summit of the Americas at Los Angeles, USA on Friday. PHOTO COURTESY THE OFFICE OF THE PM –

THE Prime Minister said the word “democracy” some eight times in his address to the Ninth Summit of the Americas at Los Angeles, US, but also advocated for Cuba and Venezuela which along with Nicaragua were banned from the event owing to the US Government’s concerns about their governments’ democratic records.

Dr Rowley also made a plea for help for Haiti, and twice condemned Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine.

Previously, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador had vowed to skip the event over the exclusions of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, while St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves had urged a boycott.

Rowley said TT, like nations in the Americas, was committed to democratic governance, digital transformation, health and resilience, a green future, and a fair clean-energy transition, and in this would empower the marginalised such as people of African descent plus indigenous and tribal peoples. He then hailed democracy, in a qualified way.

“I firmly believe that the greatest opportunity that this summit provides for delivering on these political commitments to our citizens, is the opportunity to rebuild trust, first in democracy, then among democracies, and ultimately within democracies, in our hemisphere of countries with diverse histories, economies, polities and societies.

“We know that the practice of democracy is neither a cloistered virtue nor an automatic one shape fits all. We say that if we are all to end up in that same safe place the journey must not be truncated and we may have to help some of our brothers and sisters along the way but we must never abandon them.”

The PM said Trinidad and Tobago’s inclusion in the summit and the respect shown to its sovereign equality helped its stability as a democracy and a beautiful twin-island republic.

“What we wish for ourselves, we wish for others. And as a proud member of the Caribbean Community, we hope that such respect and regard would be afforded to all states within our hemisphere, including Cuba and Venezuela. The path of exclusion and sanctions has not been effective in the past and has brought us no closer to the goal of an Americas which is equitable for the ordinary citizens of our hemisphere no matter where they live.”

Rowley also made a plug for Haiti (which has been facing severe social, political and economic instability).

“We cannot accept without worry what is happening in Haiti as a normal existence for the population there. We who have put man on the moon and created the internet, we should be able to bring some relief to Haitian lives, within these Americas.”

He twice condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, referring to “an unjustified state-on-state war” which had shown the interdependence of lives and livelihoods in the world.

Rowley said experiences such as the covid19 pandemic had shown the importance of multilateral co-operation to preserve the Caribbean a zone of peace “even as it is threatened today by the violation of international law and the global rules-based system in Ukraine.”

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